Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year...What The What?

There are two stories making the rounds this New Year's Eve that have me shaking my head.  One is tragic and the other is just...silly.

The first one is the story of a two year old that shot and killed his mother in a Utah Walmart.  Horrifying.  So many lives ruined in a second.  It raises so many questions:  Why was the gun in her purse?  Why was the kid left alone with the gun and purse?  How did his two year old fingers manage to pull the trigger?  What was she so afraid of in that little podunk town that she felt she needed to be armed to go to Walmart?  Did she get the gun for Christmas?

See the story here.

I don't want to get into a gun debate.  I really don't.  My husband is a former Marine.  He has massive respect for what guns and more importantly, bullets, can do.  We don't have a gun in the house, but if and when we move to the country (which we are thinking about in the future), my husband has already said that he would want a rifle; nothing crazy, just something for protection in a remote area where the police response time is decidedly slower than it is in the suburbs.  I know that he will be responsible with it.  He is that kind of guy.  I am no fan of guns myself, but I have no problem with responsible gun owners.  Where "responsible" becomes "irresponsible" becomes a bit more blurry for me, but that is a discussion for another day.  

I have been reading the debates about this incident.  The most ridiculous arguments are being made by some who are bragging about how savvy their own two year old's are with guns.  They are saying things like "They know not to touch a gun, ever".  I even saw a guy compare his having guns and teaching his toddlers about them to electrical outlets.  "We teach them not to touch those!  This is the same thing!".  Really?

Not the same, not at all.  Yes, we teach our kids to stay away from hot pots and electrical outlets...and guns, and accidents still happen.  As much as we parents are on top of our little ones, we still need to use the bathroom from time to time, or answer the door, or check on another child, or make dinner, or, many "ors" in life.  Two year old's (and five year old's and ten year old's and teenagers and young adults...) don't make the best decisions.  Sure, they may have been told a thousand times that running into the street after a ball is a no-no, but how many do it anyway?  The answer is:  ALL OF THEM.  At one time or another, every kid puts themselves in some kind of dangerous situation.  Hopefully, usually, there is an adult nearby to save them from themselves.

While I certainly hope that these parents of gun-savvy two year old's are correct; which I highly, highly doubt, (sorry, THEY ARE TWO!) what I hope more is that they never learn whether they were wrong.  I hope they never have to second guess their actions because of a tragedy.  I also fervently hope that they are more responsible than that mom in the Walmart.  However you feel about guns, I am fairly certain that we can agree that a loose, loaded handgun in a purse within reach of everyone around you, not just your kids, is a bad idea; really, horribly, sometimes tragically bad.

I am thinking about this family today and hoping that they can find some peace in the coming year.

The other story making the rounds is about...drumroll, please...Playdoh.  It seems that in an attempt to design a kid friendly, fake cake making set, the manufacturers made one part look like this 

I mean, okay.  I see it.  The person that designed it is either totally incompetent or a total, toy making genius.  After all, it is getting attention.

What I don't get is how this ruined anyone's Christmas.  People are actually saying that.  "It ruined Christmas when our daughter opened this present!", they are saying, hands held to throats in horror.

Seriously?  In what world does this ruin anything?  Sure, it looks like a tiny penis.  My question is:  Who cares?  It's not a tiny penis.  It's a tiny, Playdoh part that happens to look a bit like a tiny penis.  

Penises do not ruin Christmas.  They just don't.  Parents who make a big deal over nothing, do.

Why these two stories together, you ask?  What does one have to do with the other?  The way I see it, with all the horrors in the world, including a two year old shooting and killing his mom, tiny plastic phalluses are the least of our worries; or at least, they should be.

Are we really that far gone as a society that we are so desensitized to violence that we shrug it off, but anything that even resembles a penis has to be blurred out for our viewing (like they did here)?  What does that say about us?  Penises, real, fake, purposeful or not, are not the problem.  Our twisted view of what is bad or wrong, is.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Post

I am sitting in my cosy little house, listening to Christmas music through the Roku.  Things sure have changed since I was a kid...even since my kids were born in the last 18 years.

First of all, Roku?  It sounds like a character in Pokemon; something else that did not exist when I was a kid.  Since I fired up the desktop, I have heard Tony Bennett, The Beach Boys, Idina Menzel and George Michael and I have not had to load my cd player and set it on "shuffle" (remember how cool that was?!?).  All I had to do was pick a Christmas station through my TV.  

Christmases when I was a kid have all become a tinsel-covered blur in my memory.  I remember fat, crazy looking trees at my maternal grandparents house (in sharp contrast to the perfectly shaped fake tree in my other grandparents home), bowls of nuts that you had to crack yourself and bodies; lots and lots of sweaty kids and overheated adults.  The oven and stove going all day long makes for an unpleasantly humid living room, especially when packed with dozens of relatives.

And I totally loved it!

Christmas was a day of many big meals and many stops.  Godawfully (for my parents) early present opening and Santa gift discovering (Santa did not wrap his presents in my childhood home and he still doesn't in my adult home.  That Santa wrapped other kid's gifts started nagging at my already suspicious mind somewhere around the age of six), brunch at my aunt's, super-early dinner (that we were always late for) at my great-aunt's, then, finally stuffed and crabby (if you were a parent) and excited (if you were me), we arrived at my maternal grandparents house.  It's not that the rest of the day wasn't fun; it's just that their house was the MOST fun.  It's where all my cousins and my grandmother's seventeen desserts were waiting for us.  I'm not kidding when I say seventeen.  There were years that I counted and if there were less than ten, my grandmother would be fretting that we might run out.

Adding to the heat and the mayhem, my grandfather would be blinding us all with his movie camera.  Those movies would get broken out on Easter, Thanksgiving, or a later Christmas when the merriment had died down.  I have so many memories of lying on the floor with my chin propped on my hands, surrounded by nearly everyone I loved, laughing at those old movies.

So much stayed the same and so much changed as I got older.  My teen-aged self did not appreciate the Christmas Eve service that took me away from my (totally super-fun) boyfriend's family party.  I did NOT want to get up early to see what Santa brought for my younger sister and brother.  All I wanted was a leather jacket, to sleep late and some freedom.

So many pictures of me smirking or rolling my eyes during these years.

When I moved away at twenty, I was not quite prepared for spending holidays without my relatives.  That first Thanksgiving was pretty sad.  My (different) boyfriend's family was wonderful and welcoming but their traditions were so different from the ones I had grown up with.  I learned pretty quickly that if I wanted any kind of taste of home, I would have to learn how to make it myself and then, it would never, ever taste how I remembered it.  
That year, I did go home for Christmas, but things had already changed in my absence.  I had only been gone for six or seven months, but I had a new cousin, my room was no longer mine and it was clear that being an adult at Christmas was not as fun as being a kid.  By the time New Year's day 1991 came around, I was more than ready to get back to L.A.

Those years were some of the best of my life so far, but the time between Thanksgiving and New Years was always very trying.  My new boyfriend (now husband!  :) ) and our friends became each other's family.  We made the best of things, probably partied a little too much and complained about the lack of holiday spirit that seemed to permeate L.A.

Now, we have our own family and for many years, Christmas has been fun again.  There is nothing like seeing your little ones light up when they see what Santa has left.  It is warm and wonderful and maybe not as chaotic and busy as the holidays of my youth, but it is still wonderful because we are together.  We have our own traditions.  I have learned that the old cliche "Home is where the heart is" is true.  My heart is here with my family and it is also with my extended family and all the friends that made my holidays of the past memorable.  Being away from them has its moments of sadness, but more, it fills me with joy that I have so much to be thankful for and so many people to miss.  It is a luxury to have had them in my life.

Now, I have my own teenagers who roll their eyes and sleep too late and occasionally, make it harder to be filled with Christmas cheer; but they also surprise me with their generosity and warmth towards each other and us.  Santa's bounty is somehow anti-climactic at 11 am, but it is no less appreciated.  The pressure of staying up until 2 am and getting up before prying little eyes is off.  We make each other laugh and they are old enough to reminisce with us.  Things have changed again and I am embracing it; living in the moment, cherishing this time.

So, to my family and friends near and far:  Much love today.  I will be thinking of you while embracing my dear husband and big boys.  

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

This is Nothing Important

My dear husband and I were talking about dream "visits" the other day.  If you have had them, you know the kind I mean.  If not, they are the kind of dreams that feel as if you have spent time with someone that you love that has passed on.  I feel lucky that I have them, even though they usually always make me cry upon waking.

Occasionally, I have "place visits" in my dreams and these make me cry, too; mostly because I am usually dreaming of some wonderful destination that I am longing to be in; Paris, the pyramids in Mexico, or my grandparents' old house that has long since been demolished and turned into two family homes.  If I could time travel, I would go back to the brick front steps of that house or to huge swing in the backyard just to have another conversation with them.  God, I miss them every day.

This morning, I had a visit of another sort.  I woke up suddenly to the sound of crashing from the living room.  Since I have cats and am used to being awoken thus, I just figured I would survey the damage when I was good and ready (it was not the Christmas tree as I had feared, only some heavy cookbooks).  I managed to fall back to sleep almost instantly and immediately fell into a luscious visit with a 6'4 WWE wrestler.  It was the kind of dream that made me feel like I needed a mental shower upon waking; or a long soak in a hot bath for real.  It was a very nice dream.  It was so nice, in fact, that it made me feel guilty enough that I needed to write up this post; as a kind of confession.

I know I can't control my subconscious.  My rich fantasy life is as deeply embedded in my DNA as graying, mousy brown hair, blue eyes and irrational guilt.  They are all parts of me that I am learning to embrace.

Whatever it means and however it makes me feel, it was nice to wake up with a smile on my face, for once, on an otherwise dreary Monday.  Now, if you don't mind, I am going back to bed.